News

Republican Party to Open Victory Center for Racine County

January 4, 2012 The State Republican Party will officially opened up the Racine County GOP Victory Center, 6211 Durand Ave on Saturday, January 7th.  The Victory Center will be the hub for all GOP candidates in 2012 and will begin to receive collateral material such as literature, signs, bumper stickers and other items immediately.

"Racine is central to ensuring a Republican victories in 2012 and the State Party has recognized that.  In 2010, 56% of Racine County voted for Governor Walker and Senator Johnson and 52% voted for State Senator Wanggaard," stated Racine County GOP Chairman, Bill Folk.  "Racine is ready to do it again in 2012."

The Victory Center will be staffed Monday through Saturday 9-9.

Grand Opening to be held Saturday, January 7th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Please join Senator Van Wanggaard and many other Racine County Elected Officials to learn how you can help keep Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Kleefisch and Senator Wanggaard in office

Phone: 262-864-1010

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Nygren/Vos Press Release: Irresponsible Budgeting Coming Home to Roost

FOR   IMMEDIATE   RELEASE                                         JULY 20, 2010                                 CONTACT:    REPRESENTATIVE JOHN NYGREN, (888) 534-0089

                        REPRESENTATIVE ROBIN VOS, (888) 534-0063

Irresponsible Budgeting Coming Home to Roost

Madison Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Robin Vos (R-Racine) were not surprised by the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision issued today repealing a $200 million raid of the Injured Patients and Family Compensation Fund (IPFCF).  In the 2007-09 budget, Governor Doyle proposed raiding the IPFCF to pay for an expansion of state government.  Representatives Nygren and Vos objected to this raid and voted against the budget.

“Governor Doyle’s irresponsible budgeting has driven Wisconsin into a fiscal black hole,” Vos said.  “This decision may force Wisconsin to take up a budget repair bill.  This isn’t a surprise considering since Governor Doyle took office he has been forced to introduce budget bailouts 6 times in 8 years.  Governor Doyle’s legacy will be one of irresponsible budgeting that has left Wisconsin in a disastrous fiscal situation.”

Governor Doyle has raided over $2 billion from segregated accounts since he took office.  The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has reported that Wisconsin is facing a $2.5 billion deficit entering the 2011-13 budget season.  That is nearly a $1 billion higher general fund deficit than the current 2009-11 budget had.

“The IPFCF was created to lower medical malpractice costs and ensure families injured by medical errors were justly compensated,” Nygren said.  “Governor Doyle and his legislative followers broke a promise to families and the medical community when they raided the fund.  This raid has already driven up health care costs and is now going to contribute to an already huge state budget deficit.”

Because of a huge deficit in the IPFCF in 2009 caused by the raid, health care provider fees that contribute to the fund were increased and given a stamp of approval by Assembly Democrats serving on the Insurance Committee.  Representatives Nygren and Vos objected to that fee increase predicting the IPFCF raid would be repealed by the Supreme Court.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: VOS STATEMENT ON NEWLY PROJECTED $2.5 BILLION BUDGET DEFICIT

Robin J. Vos

    State Representative • 63rd Assembly District • Racine County

Vos Statement on Newly Projected $2.5 Billion Budget Deficit

Madison…Following the release of a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau today showing the upcoming 2011-13 state budget is projected to be $2.5 billion in deficit, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) released the following statement: 

“When Governor Doyle took office eight years ago, he promised to fix the Wisconsin state budget. This analysis shows us that under his leadership it has only gotten much worse.

“Democrats promised us that when they passed their last budget laden with tax increases it would fix our economic woes. Instead, the deficit is worse and our unemployment rate is still more than 8%.

“It will take many years to repair the financial damage Doyle did by taking as much as he needed from the pocketbooks of Wisconsinites to support his reckless spending habit.

“ Wisconsin families deserve better than this.”

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Robin Vos Eupdate: Vos Eupdate Takes a Break ~ May 27, 2010

Vos E-Update Takes a BreakState Law Prohibits Communication in Summer of Election Year

Dear E-Update Subscriber,

This week's legislative E-Update will be the last one you receive from me until after the fall election.  Wisconsin law prohibits legislators up for election from distributing 50 or more of any one substantially similar item after June 1 in an election year. That law includes the Vos E-Update.

My Capitol office will of course, still be open.  So if you have questions or want to express your views on an issue, please feel free to email me or call my office. 

Have a great summer and look for the next legislative edition of my E-Update at the end of the year.

 Healthy Debate Good for Democracy

As we head into the election season, there will no doubt be the national discussion of partisanship and why it seems so difficult for the two parties to come together on issues.

I recently read this opinion piece on partisanship by E.J. Dionne, Jr, and found it interesting. Dionne explains partisanship as not a mindless or futile action, but one more rooted in principle.  I've copied excerpts from the piece below for you to read:

Living with partisanship  

By E.J. Dionne Jr. Monday, March 1, 2010; A21   

The word "partisanship" is typically accompanied by the word "mindless." That's not simply insulting to partisans; it's also untrue.

If we learn nothing else in 2010, can we please finally acknowledge that our partisan divisions are about authentic principles that lead to very different approaches to governing?

Last week's health-care summit was a day-long seminar that should make it impossible for anyone to pretend otherwise -- and Republicans on the Sunday talk shows said yet again that they had no intention of making it any easier for President Obama to pass his health-reform plan.

At the health summit, the most revealing exchange was between the president and Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who is also a physician. Barrasso's central concern is that the health-care system doesn't operate enough like every other market. He seemed troubled less by the many Americans who lack health insurance than by those who abuse the insurance they already have.

Addressing Obama, Barrasso suggested that we might be better off if people were insured only for catastrophic care. "Mr. President, when you say [people] with catastrophic plans, they don't go for care until later, I say sometimes the people with catastrophic plans are the people that are [the] best consumers of health care in . . . the way they use their health-care dollars."

"A lot of people" with insurance, he added, "come in and say, 'My knee hurts, maybe I should get an MRI,' they say. And then they say, 'Will my insurance cover it?' That's the first question. And if I say 'yes,' then they say, 'okay, let's do it.' If I say 'no,' then they say, 'Well, what will it . . . cost?' And 'What's it [going to] cost?' ought to be the first question. And that's why sometimes people with . . . catastrophic health plans ask the best questions, shop around, are the best consumers of health care."

Obama played the old TV character Columbo, who thrived on posing seemingly naive questions: "I just am curious. Would you be satisfied if every member of Congress just had catastrophic care? Do you think we'd be better health-care purchasers?"

Barrasso answered in the affirmative, though he didn't propose that senators dump their present coverage. Obama came right back: "Would you feel the same way if you were making $40,000 . . . because that's the reality for a lot of folks. . . . They don't fly into [the] Mayo [Clinic] and suddenly decide they're going to spend a couple million dollars on the absolute, best health care. They're folks who are left out."

Obama concluded: "We can debate whether or not we can afford to help them, but we shouldn't pretend somehow that they don't need help."

As neatly as anything I have seen, this exchange captured the philosophical and emotional difference between the two parties. Democrats on the whole believe in using government to correct the inequities and inefficiencies the market creates, while Republicans on the whole think market outcomes are almost always better than anything government can produce.

That's not cheap partisanship. It's a fundamental divide. The paradox is that our understanding of politics would be more realistic if we were less cynical and came to see the battle for what it really is.

Over the years, I've occasionally heard from voters who say they wish their elected officials could be more bipartisan.  I understand the want by some to see elected officials get along, and the thought that the constant arguing can't accomplish much. But like Dionne, it has been my experience that partisanship is rooted in principles. 

Further, it is a common misconception that bipartisanship means one party gets to drive the policies and the other party must go along to get along. Bipartisanship means that some people from EACH party must compromise on an agreed-upon result. I have not seen much in the way of compromise on the part of the party driving the policy.

I stand by my partisan principles, and I look forward to continuing these healthy debates with you after the election.

Thank you for taking part in the discussion.

Sincerely,

Robin

Robin Vos Eupdate: Jobs for Racine County ~ May 21, 2010

Jobs for Racine County  RCEDC Annual Meeting Shows Racine County Leaders Committed to Economic Development

This week I attended the 27th annual meeting of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation(RCEDC). The meeting was held at the new Burlington Veterans Terrace, and I was so impressed to be among 300 people joining together to talk about how we could draw more jobs to the county. 

With such a high unemployment rate in Racine County, it is so important that we have a plan to bring in jobs, and RCEDC has that plan. In January 2010, the RCEDC completed a strategic planning process, in which I participated,  to further economic development in Racine County and focus on business recruitment, expansion and retention.

Their recruitment plan focuses on taking advantage of Racine's geographical location in the Chicago -Milwaukee Corridor.  During the last three years, 53% of the business prospects have originated from the Corridor. When recruiting businesses from this region, RCEDC plans to maintain an emphasis on advanced manufacturing, green industries, logistics, and distribution.

Their retention and expansion plan will revolve around a comprehensive business outreach program with an emphasis on manufacturing.  They also plan to launch a web-based business matchmaking program to encourage buying and selling of local products throughout the Milwaukee-Chicago Corridor. Additionally, the RCEDC plans to hold Next Generation Manufacturing workshops to enhance companies' global competitiveness.

The RCEDC has a proven track record of results that make them the best driver of economic development for Racine County.  In fact, their business development program, named DRIVE! has produced impressive results over the past 3 years.

  • They have assisted 42 companies in creating  553 new jobs and retaining 155 jobs.
  • RCEDC has recruited 10 new startup companies to Racine County.
  • The new jobs created have generated $27.2 million in annual wages.
  • They loaned $6.3 million in capital to 25 companies
  • The average wage paid to workers was $17 for all jobs created and retained
  • The RCEDC managed $12.3 million in local loan funds with $2.7 million available to companies for new projects.

Also, at the meeting, a few distinguished members of RCEDC were given awards for their outstanding service over the past year. 

Roger Caron was awarded the Anthony J. Dicastri Award for his multi-year commitment to the RCEDC and the community. Roger has served as President of RAMAC since 1982.  He also served on the RCEDC Board of Directors from 1985 through 1990 and on the RCEDC Marketing Committee from 1990 through 1994. 

Gil Bakke received the Leonard W. Ziolkowski Award. This award is presented to a current or formerpublic sector member who demonstrates a significant multi-year commitment to the community and the RCEDC. Gil served on the RCEDC Board of Directors from 1992 to 2000 and on the RCEDC Loan Committee from 1995 to 2006.  Mr. Bakke continues to serve on the Racine County Board.

Ron Jandura, with whom I'm pictured above, received the Sam Johnson Volunteer of the Year Award.  Ron was given this award for his multiple volunteer initiatives which have had significant impact on current and future development in Racine County. Ron has served as the Superintendent of theBurlington School District, as well as the Board of the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation (CATI) since 2003.  He also served on the Gateway Technical College Board from 2001 to 2009. 

This meeting was a reminder of what it really takes to grow jobs. It's not government policies and actions. In fact, many times, government drives economic development in the wrong direction. Job growth is really achieved when the private sector works together. I look forward to working with RCEDC and other leaders committed to growing our community in the future.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WHERE WAS TOM?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                            Contact: Robin Vos (262) 770 7137May 20, 2010                                                                                                                      Mike Huebsch (608) 397 7301

WHERE WAS TOM?

Madison…Candidate Tom Barrett announced for Governor in December and was absent in the debate on growing our economy until today when he introduced a proposal filled with Republican ideas, said Reps. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) and Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem).  Their question to Barrett is where was he this spring when the Republicans introduced these ideas and they died under Democratic leadership?

“Stealing other people’s homework and peddling it to the voters of Wisconsin shows that Tom Barrett is not only a fraud, but that he has absolutely no original ideas,” said Huebsch.

Vos and Huebsch highlighted a few of the many ideas in Barrett’s plan that were directly stolen from Republicans:

Jobs Now Initiative: Assembly and Senate Republicans introduced this plan earlier this year and held numerous public hearings with private business people throughout the state to understand what government could do to help them flourish in this state. Barrett didn’t even try to change the name!

But the biggest difference, according to Vos and Huebsch, is that the first priority of the Republicans Jobs Now Initiative was to repeal job-killing tax increases implemented by Doyle. Barrett has no such plan.

Freezing of all new regulations: AB 931 – Rep. Pat Strachota

Job Creation Tax Cut – AB 969 – Reps. Robin Vos and Mike Huebsch

Rapid Response Team For Business – Act 28 – Introduced as a budget amendment by Rep. Vos and vetoed by Doyle

“Not only did Tom Barrett steal other people’s homework,” said Vos, “but he also failed to do his own by copying already-existing ideas.”

Huebsch and Vos said Barrett’s job plan talks about introducing a supply chain initiative.  This idea (AB 864) was signed into law by Governor Doyle last week.  Another idea touted by Barrett, continued Vos, is a small business ombudsman. The Department of Commerce already has a Small Business Ombudsman.

“Telling people what they want to hear is not true leadership,” said Vos. “Based on his track record of inaction how can we trust that any of this will actually occur.”

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Authorized and paid for by Friends and Neighbors of Robin Vos, Samantha Vos, Treasurer

Robin Vos EUpdate: KRM: Still Alive? ~ May 14, 2010

KRM: Still Alive?SERTA Board to Meet Monday to Consider Submitting Application, Enacting New Tax

This week, I learned that the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) Board will bemeeting on Monday to discuss submitting their application to the federal government for approval of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Rail line. (Click here for Monday's updated power point presentation on the proposal). They will also be discussing whether or not to enact an $18 rental car tax in Milwaukee , Racine and Kenosha Counties .

If you remember from a previous update, I explained that the regional transit authority enabling legislation failed to pass this legislative session. This legislation, Assembly Bill 723, would have regionalized the transit system in Southeastern Wisconsin, increased the sales tax in Milwaukee County and allowed for tax increases in Racine and Kenosha Counties . Its passage was viewed by the unelected, unaccountable board as a necessary step in the process if the Feds were to approve KRM. 

The idea behind the legislation was that Milwaukee County would get the extra revenue they needed to fix their bus system, and any extra revenue collected in all three counties could be directed to fund KRM and buses. This legislation failed to pass the Legislature because enough Democrats realized that the majority of Southeastern Wisconsin residents do not want a sales tax increase.

During last year's budget process, an $18 rental car tax was enacted by the Democrats to fund the SERTA Board and possibly provide revenue to the train. It has not yet been enacted.  Because it is a very unstable funding source, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) does not look favorably on it as an acceptable funding mechanism for rail.  And why should they? This article describes rental car taxes as "unfair and discriminatory because they single out a group of consumers and impose an undue financial burden on a segment of the population that does not stand to directly benefit." 

A 2005 study on the tax conducted in Kansas City , MO found the tax to be inefficient and inequitable.  In Kansas City , a $4 per day tax was enacted.  Researchers found that there was a 9% reduction in rental car customers in location where the tax was in effect.  It found as much as a 50% reduction in a rental car demand among people living near locations where the tax was in effect, more than an 80% reduction in the days cars were rented, and a decrease in the state's sales tax receipts due to people driving across the border for a car.  Imagine what effect an $18 per day tax would have!

A $2 rental car tax is currently being collected - enacted for SERTA years ago to fund their activities - (i.e. to fund the tens of thousands of dollars used thus far for lobbyist costs and public relations campaigns).  It is my fear that the board will vote to submit the application vote to start collecting the $18 tax.  If the application fails, but the tax is enacted, the SERTA board will just be padding their coffers to pay more lobbyists, launch more public relations campaigns, and maybe even bank some money over the years so that the Feds will see this project as slightly more feasible.

If you happened to listen to Mark Belling's radio show today, you would have heard that a few of my Republican colleagues and I who represent Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties, sent a letter on Wednesday to Karl Ostby asking for an explanation as to why they would consider bringing up KRM again.   It is especially confusing to us since SERTA has publicly acknowledged that approval of a federal "new starts" application would be very hard to obtain with a single funding source like the rental car tax. It is our biggest fear that they are simply doing this to self-fund a larger political machine with taxpayer dollars that will continue to muscle its way toward an unsustainable commuter rail line in Southeastern Wisconsin .

We have not yet gotten a response to our letter, but when we do I will post it to my website for you to read.  My hope is that the media attention this meeting receives will shine a public light on it and cause the board to think twice about trying to once again push for a rail project that the people have overwhelmingly said they do not support.  

Robin Vos Eupdate: Jim Doyleopolis ~ May 7, 2010

Jim Doyleopolis From Greece to the Wisconsin State Budget

The news of the total collapse of the Greek economy is a complex issue, but simplistic at the same time in that they only got to this point due to (in the words of the Wall Street Journal editorial page) "an economy that's hostile to free enterprise and private property, primed for corruption, lacking in labor and capital mobility, stifled by powerful trade unions and unlikely to grow without deep-rooted changes". 

Sounds a little like Wisconsin , doesn't it?

Also, just like Wisconsin , Greece was ranked very close to the bottom of 183 countries on the annual World Bank 2010 "Doing Business" survey.  They were ranked at the very bottom of all 27 members of the European Union as well as dead last among the 31 advanced economy countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

These dismal rankings also conjure up images of Wisconsin , as we are frequently ranked one of the worst states in the country in which to do business. According to the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, in a recent policy paper on jobs in Wisconsin, "most independent rankings put Wisconsin in the bottom ten worst business climates in the country" and went on to say "we must move aggressively to address the issues that undermine our competitiveness". They say our impediments to competitiveness are out of control government spending, an unbalanced budget, high taxes, regulation and permitting complexity, and a legal system run amok - much the same as Greece .  

While the news today of 290,000 new jobs is encouraging, the unemployment rate has actually increased since last month as many become ineligible for unemployment and must once again try to enter the workforce. Unfortunately, the job number is also padded by limited-term census jobs and no doubt, other newly-created government jobs.

If Wisconsin is to recover from our budget mess and try to fill what is already shaping up to be a $2.3 billion budget hole in the next biennium, we too, will need improving economic news.  But that seems elusive when you consider last week's announcement that Harley Davidson needs to find $54 million in cuts.  If they can't get there, they've threatened to close plants in Tomahawk and Menomonee Falls .  This will jeopardize 1,400 private Wisconsin jobs as well as hundreds more jobs that exist to supply products to Harley Davidson.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this woeful situation is due, in large part, to a new combined reporting business tax, implemented by Governor Doyle in the last budget.  The tax cost Harley Davidson an additional $22.5 million this year.  It also perpetuates the disturbing trend in Wisconsin in which for the first time in our history we have more government jobs than manufacturing jobs. More government jobs, of course, means a worse budget problem, not a better one.

So where does that leave us? How will we fix this problem? We have higher taxes, and therefore, less private sector jobs.  But we also have more government jobs requiring more money to continue funding those government jobs and their massive benefit packages.

Perhaps we could look to other states for answers? Not likely.  This article details the huge budget problems currently faced by Illinois . Yesterday they increased the cigarette tax to generate another $320 million.  Doyle already did that. They are also considering re-securitizing their tobacco settlement money to bring in $1.2 billion. Wisconsin has already used that gimmick, too. So what will they do? They'll just kick the can down the road for the next Legislature to deal with it.

Governor Doyle is no different.  As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I recently received a memo from the Department of Administration asking permission to issue $800 million in operating notes because fund levels have dipped to negative levels.  As you can see from the chart below, if operating notes are not used, our cash funds will be in the negative for much of the next year. This a very convenient gimmick designed to get Doyle through the end of his term with positive cash flow, leaving the next Governor with a real mess on his hands. This is certainly not a new gimmick to Governor Doyle, however.  He's borrowed more than $2 billion in short-term operating notes since he took office.

So when the can gets kicked down the road into the next budget cycle, I can only hope that Wisconsin has principled leaders who are willing to actually tackle the problem. Wisconsin has raised so many taxes already that simply raising more will not solve the problem - and we've seen that now based on the most recent budget.  In fact, they never solve the problem.  We will collapse under the weight of the inefficiency and non-competitiveness generated by our increased tax collections - just as Greece has. 

The bottom line is that in almost every place on the planet, government has become too big.  From Athens to Washington to Madison . As Americans - though we face tough economic times - we have thus far managed to stay afloat. But every day it seems we witness new, yet unseen actions taken by our government that are clearly just more steps down the slippery slope into the disaster that is Greece. And we need to heed that warning by electing new leaders who apply the smaller-government principles necessary to drag us back up the slope.

The Wall Street Journal said it best:

"All of this ought to be a cautionary tale for politicians in Europe's other high-spending, slow growth states - and for those in Sacramento , Albany and Washington , D.C. , too. Greece shows that the welfare state model of development, dominated by public unions, onerous regulations, high taxes and the political allocation of capital, has hit the wall. Down the road lies more Greek tragedy."

Rep. Vos Launches New Website; Update Gets a Makeover

You may have noticed the new look of the E -Update this week.  It's a new format designed to match the look of my new legislative website, just launched yesterday.  You can access it by clicking onwww.repvos.com

Here you'll find an archive of my past E-Updates, most recent news releases, video clips and general information about state government.  Please take some time to take a look at my website and let me know what you think!

Robin Vos Eupdate: Vos, Pocan Debate on Wisconsin Eye ~ April 29, 2010

Vos, Pocan Debate on Wisconsin Eye

Trinity Lutheran Fourth Graders Visit State Capitol

 

On Wednesday I appeared on Wisconsin Eye to debate state Representative Mark Pocan from Madison .  Click here to watch us spar about many different issues including tax increases,economic development, regional taxing authorities, and education.

Trinity Lutheran Fourth Graders Visit the State Capitol

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with 20 fourth graders from the Trinity Lutheran School in Racine . I gave them a full tour of the Capitol and also took questions from the class.  One of my favorite things to do is meet with school groups. I always find their unique perspectives to be very refreshing.

If you would like to schedule a capitol tour either for yourself or for your child's school group, please contact my office.  We'd be happy to help you set that up!

Robin Vos Eupdate: Legislative Session Wrap-Up ~ April 23, 2010

Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Thank you!!  That's all I can say.  Because people like you who made your voices heard in opposition to so many bad policies in the Legislature this session, we were successful in blocking some of the worst of them in the last week of session.   

As you may know, this week marked the end of the 2009-10 legislative session.  My fellow Assembly Republicans and I endured a grueling week.  Tuesday we were in session all through the night until 8 am Wednesday.  Last night we didn't adjourn until after 4am.  As you know from my comments during the budget process last year, I'm not in favor of voting on proposals in the dark of night out of the public eye.  This week was no exception.

Fortunately, the Democrats' tactic of trying to quietly pass bad proposals in the dark of night was not successful, and for that I am thankful.  Democrats had three major initiatives on their agenda:Global Warming legislation which would have imposed massive energy taxes on families and manufacturers to kill even more manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin; Regional Taxing Authorities allowing unelected, unaccountable boards to impose sales taxes all over the state for highly subsidized, unsustainable transit projects; and the election "reform" bill which would have simply paved the way for more election fraud in Wisconsin.

Early Wednesday morning, at about 4am, Rep. Peter Barca from Kenosha believed he had the votes to pass the highly contentious Regional Taxing Authority legislation. My colleagues and I responded with 15 amendments that proposed everything from instituting a binding referendum in Milwaukee County (the current proposal assumes a yes vote on a 2008 referendum to fund parks and public safety was enough to say the voters were also fine with paying a sales tax for transit) to stripping the state funding from the bill to ensure the already bankrupt transportation fund would be protected from further insolvency.

Surprisingly, and much to Peter Barca's surprise, the first amendment for the Milwaukee County referendum garnered enough support from Democrats to actually pass. This sent those in favor of the RTA into a panic, and they tried to move for the whole Assembly to reconsider the vote - meaning they would pressure someone to change from a yes to a no.  As the arm-twisting continued, they realized they just didn't have the votes to pass it, and they pulled the bill from the calendar.  It is now dead. I think there are few Democrats who are still surprised over this, given they really thought they would be able to ram this through this time, and also considering that Governor Doyle had been calling legislators all day to talk them into supporting the bill.  

That same morning, the Democrats took up the highly contentious Global Warming bill. This has long been known to be Governor Doyle's number one initiative.  As amendments to this began splintering the Democrat caucus, that bill was also pulled, never receiving a final vote. This bill is also now dead. 

Finally, the election fraud bill never came up for a vote in either the Senate or the Assembly. This very dangerous proposal threatened to harm our election system in Wisconsin by paving the way for Acorn-like tactics that would have been used to steal elections. I, myself, am surprised this was not even brought up for debate. But I can only assume that it must have had everything to do with the steady drum beat of Wisconsin voters calling their legislators in recent weeks to beg that this bill be defeated. If you were one of those people, I again want to thank you.  Without you we would not have been able to stop this horrible piece of legislation.

Insofar as my job is to protect Wisconsinites from being subjected to more government, damaging policies, and higher taxes, I feel that we did have some important successes this session. Sadly, though, as Democrats bickered over these three pieces of legislation, they really failed to provide an agenda for jobs and economic development - the most important problem currently facing our state. 

As you know from reading past E-updates, I do have economic development ideas that I think really could have helped get Wisconsin 's economy back on track. However, they were tossed aside by Democrats who would have rather spent their time approving billions in new tax increases and forwarding initiatives to fix problems that don't exist, rig elections, and create even more massive government programs.

I am hopeful that when we begin the next legislative session in January of 2011, these bad ideas will still be dead and we can get to the business of fixing our fiscal mess and putting Wisconsin back on the right track

Robin Vos Eupdate: ACORN-Style Elections Coming to Wisconsin ~ April 16, 2010

ACORN-Style Elections Coming to Wisconsin

There is a very high probability that, unless it is stopped, a bill will be signed into law next week that will be detrimental to the integrity of our election system here in Wisconsin .  The bill, being touted as "election reform" is anything but and will make it much easier for election fraud to occur in Wisconsin .

Also known as "motor voter" legislation, this bill will require that the Department of Transportation and possibly other government programs/agencies such as welfare and universities to hand over all of their driver records to the Government Accountability Board.  All drivers in Wisconsin will be added to the voter rolls, whether they are registered to vote or not.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that flooding the voter rolls with 1000s of new people who may not ever intend to vote will only provide more opportunities for cheaters to vote under false names.

Wisconsin already has same day registration and we don't even require a photo ID to prove your identity. While supporters of this bill say they're just trying to make it easier to vote, I can't imagine how much easier we really need to make it. Flooding the voter rolls makes it more difficult for clerks and doesn't compel a single non-voter to vote, it only encourages more fraud.

Further, it registers people who may not be eligible to vote. For instance, legal immigrants may be eligible for a driver's license, yet not eligible to vote. Placing them on the voter roll makes it much easier for the legal immigrant to unlawfully vote if they so choose. During the budget, Governor Doyle attempted to provide drivers licenses to illegal residents. Thankfully it was stopped, but I really wonder if it was proposed with an ulterior motive in mind.

Next, the bill allows for multiple absentee collection sites in a municipality. Further, voters who cast their ballot at the clerk's office before the election will no longer be required to be sign theabsentee ballot, nor will they need a witness. 

In a letter to legislative leaders, written by Attorney General Van Hollen this week, he outlined many problematic pieces of the proposal that will make fraud easier. But the attorney general raised considerable concerns with regard to absentee ballots. Van Hollen says that multiple absentee sites will cause haphazard administration.  He also says that a signature is the most important piece of evidence in proving the elector engaged in identity theft at the ballot box.  Van Hollen claims without a signature, you have no "fail-safe mechanism to prevent all unlawful registration and voting".

This election fraud bill also clamps down on who can challenge an elector in the case that they think they may not be eligible to vote. Many people volunteer to be poll watchers on election day, and if one does, they are able to do so in any polling place in the state. This bill says that you would not be able to challenge an elector if you were not from that particular county.

For instance, if you decide that you would like to be a poll watcher in downtown Milwaukee this November and you witness a voter you think might not be eligible to vote, you would no longer be allowed to challenge that voter.

What's worse, this proposal dramatically increases penalties for citizens taking part in democracy by doing their share to prevent fraud due to the criminalization of voter intimidation, suppression and deceptive election statute changes. Independent election observers, or even a voter who questions someone's ability to cast a ballot at the polling place could now be subject to fines up to$100,000, 5 years in jail, or both.  The ironic thing is that under this "reform" bill, trying to prevent fraud could actually end up giving out higher penalties for trying to prevent fraud than actually committing fraud. 

Perhaps the worst part of the election fraud bill allows for nationally focused nonprofit organizations (Read: Acorn) to obtain the lists from the Government Accountability Board. This will certainly allow nefarious groups such as Acorn and others like it to use the lists to their advantage during election-time in Wisconsin . I don't want to see that happen.

There's no question that the only reason this bill is being rushed through is to keep the opposition from the public to a dull roar.  Within mere weeks it has been introduced, heard in two committees, and will now likely be passed quietly next week at the end of session - unless enough people make their voices heard.

I urge you to contact other Racine County representatives who support this measure such asCory MasonBob Turner, and John Lehman and beg them to change their minds on a bill, the only purpose of which, is to allow our elections to be stolen from us. Voting is a privilege in this country and enforcing a high standard with regard to the rules is the only way to maintain integrity.

Robin Vos Eupdate: Economic Development Ideas Continued ~ April 9, 2010

Economic Development Ideas Continued

In previous weeks, I've mentioned I have an economic development plan that I've introduced to the Legislature. I recently wrote about my $1000 jobs deduction plan.  Another idea I circulated to the Legislature last week is an economic development superfund known as the Governor's Opportunity Fund to provide incentives to companies to relocate or expand in Wisconsin.

It's no secret that Wisconsin has a high unemployment rate and has lost well over 100,000 jobs in the last year.  The Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance reported that Wisconsin has lost 4.3% (6700) businesses between 2006 and 2009.  That's a higher percentage than the U.S., as a whole, and any surrounding state, including Michigan.

To stop this huge loss of businesses and jobs, Wisconsin needs a bold plan.  By creating a well-funded economic development incentive tool, Wisconsin will be able to rapidly respond and recruit prospective businesses to help replace the jobs and businesses we've lost because of years of anti-business policies. 

While the Department of Commerce has long claimed that they have the ability to recruit businesses quickly, it became evident via a legislative audit that most incentive funds at the Department are either too specific or too mired in bureaucratic red tap to be useful.  Further, the programs are underfunded.

The Wisconsin Development Fund (WDF), currently funded at $10 million annually, is one such underfunded economic incentive fund housed at the Department of Commerce. Additionally, it's often used as a slush fund to earmark money to specific projects. Just this week the Joint Finance Committee approved another new program to earmark even more money from the WDF for business loans for energy efficiency - further impinging on the flexibility of the fund to direct money for a very specific purpose that will not enhance economic development as a whole.

My proposal would allow for a fresh start with a new approach through a fund that won't be paralyzed by the bureaucracy. The Governor's Opportunity Fund will allow the governor to award grants and loans to businesses based on their job creation numbers and private investment commitments. The fund will also set aside a portion of awards for areas with higher than average unemployment and also for rural communities.

The fund will be a segregated account that I hope will someday exceed $100 million. While I understand that amount may seem implausible, especially in these tough economic times, I do have one idea that could provide existing funding through rooting out waste, fraud, abuse in government programs....but more about that next week.    

I truly believe that economic development should be our number one priority.  But right now, it's clearly not for the party in charge.  I'm sure when the Legislature debates my proposal Democrats will ask how government could possibly be asked to find that kind of money for economic development.  But compared to the big government social programs they've chosen to fund this year, any amount allocated to the Governor's Opportunity Fund will pale in comparison to what they've spent. 

And, what's more, if we had better economic development tools in Wisconsin, we probably wouldn't need to spend so much on our social programs.  Because there's no better social program than a good paying job

Robin Vos Eupdate: The Trains Keep Rolling ~ Friday, April 2, 2010

The Trains Keep Rolling

****NOTE***: If you cannot view portions of this E-update - especially video clips - please clickHERE to view this E-update in your web browser.  If you've read the news or listened to talk radio these past few weeks, you've probably seen and heard a few stories about trains.  This is because Democrats and Governor Doyle are making a last ditch effort to put KRM in motion.  High speed rail has also attracted some press because of the controversy surrounding it.

However, not everything about the trains has been covered by the media, and since it's a significant issue with many facets, I thought I'd take this opportunity to provide an update on these projects. 

 HIGH SPEED RAIL

As you know, the high speed rail line that has been approved between Madison and Milwaukeeis controversial on many fronts. First, it's an $810 million stimulus project that will require ongoing state resources to operate and to pay the capital bonding costs.  It isn't really high speed, as it will initially travel at about 75mph and take the same amount of time to travel between the two cities as a car would.  The roundtrip ticket price is projected to be $60. And finally, Governor Doyle entered into a no-bid contract with Spanish train company, Talgo, for two train sets with a price tag of $48 million.   

A few weeks ago, I appeared on Upfront with Mike Gousha, opposite Bob Jambois, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's general legal counsel.  The debate centered around the no-bid contract issued to Talgo.  In the interview, he accused me of Mccarthyism for saying the process was rigged.  I was totally taken aback by his comments. Watch the entire interview below (click here if you can't see video):

A week or so later, after seeing the Upfront video, I was contacted by the vice president of New York train company, Alstom, who also took great issue with Mr. Jambois' comments. They sent me a letter they had written to the DOT last fall complaining about the bidding process.  The letter explains that the claims made by DOT that no one responded to their request for information (RFI) process are completely false. Alstom also asserted that it's clear based on how DOT handled the situation they were simply stacking the deck to make sure Talgo was the only company to get the contract. Alstom further pointed out that DOT's claim that they went with Talgo because they are the only company to offer "tilting technology" is false and that most train manufacturers offer this.

The day I released the letter and this press release to the media, I was invited on Charlie Sykes' radio show to talk about it.  Charlie posted a story about this on his website, however I was disappointed that the story didn't get more traction with mainstream media outlets. 

Last week I participated in a press conference with Rep. Brett Davis and Scott Walker to introduce a bill that would put the brakes on the high speed rail project until the full legislature approves it. 

Because the train is initially paid for with stimulus money a full vote is not required, even though we've heard from people all over the state who object to this train based on the ongoing operating costs that will be sucked out of the transportation fund for years to come.

The proposal for high speed rail was approved by Democrats on the Joint Finance Committeein February.  At that time, I introduced amendments to require a private study of the ongoing costs.  All my amendments were quickly dismissed by the Democrats on the committee.  You can watch that debate here (click here if you can't see video):

It's unfortunate that because federal money is paying for this project initially, so many view it as free. It's not free money, it's taxpayer money, and it will have major long-term costs, the extent of which we can't even predict right now because we've not been given all the information.

KRM Commuter Rail

The KRM commuter rail line proposal has certainly gone through many transformations over the years. When it comes to process, this year may go down as the most interesting year for the proposal, yet.  Though many backers blamed Republicans for so many years for not pushing it through, the line has become a more contentious and volatile issue this year when Democrats control both houses and the Governor's mansion. 

First it was in the budget, then Governor Doyle vetoed it out. Then legislators waited until the last minute to finally put forth a proposal because consensus could not be reached between Milwaukee County representatives, the Governor's office, and those representing the rest of southeast Wisconsin .

The result was a myriad of different bills that sought to create separate regional transportation authorities all over the state. Finally, a public hearing was held, and the buzz around the Capitol was that KRM was once again dead. Yesterday, however, the Assembly Transportation Committee voted on a 52-page substitute amendment, written by Rep. Peter Barca from Kenosha .  No member of the committee even got to read the amendment until minutes before the vote was taken.

Though we won't know every ramification of the bill until a final analysis is done, it's clear that it allows new taxing authorities composed of unelected, unaccountable board members to form all over the state and collect new transit taxes from Wisconsin families.

The last-minute draft also puts in place enabling legislation for KRM and appropriates $9 million from the transportation fund (already $30 million in deficit) for "incentive funds" that will go to these unelected boards.

It's possible this bill may come to the Joint Finance Committee next week. However, I'm hearing it's still unlikely the Senate will act on KRM before the end of the session this month.  So supporters may have to wait for yet another session to resurrect this ongoing debate.

Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a Racine forum that featured Randal O'toole.  O'toole is a senior fellow at The Cato Institute - a nationally recognized free market think tank. He has written many papers on urban transit and its unsustainable nature due to the massive government subsidy needed to operate it when compared to ridership.

I found his presentation very interesting, and thanks to the MacIver Institute, you can watch an interview he did for them. In the interview, he supplies a lot of different graphs and examples to break down the immensity of the subsidy for KRM and high speed rail (click here if you can't see video):

With Democrats knowing that voters are opposed to many of their proposals and that elections are looming in November, they will continue to try and ram through bills at the last minute. Having all the facts is always important and I'll continue to keep you updated on these and other important proposals as we approach the frantic-paced close of the session.

State Representative Robin Vos State Capitol - Room 321 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison , Wisconsin 53708 Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663 Email: Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov On the Internet: Representative Vos' Web Site

Robin Vos Eupdate: Ideas for Economic Development in Wisconsin ~ March 26, 2010

Ideas for Economic Development in Wisconsin

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I would be unveiling my ideas to get Wisconsin 's economy back on track. This week I circulated a few different bills to the Legislature as part of a package of economic ideas Wisconsin could use to stimulate growth and create jobs.  I will be sharing these ideas with you over the course of the next few weeks. 

One of the bills I authored will give a $1000 tax deduction to EVERY Wisconsin employer for all existing full time equivalent jobs in the state, as well as any new full-time-equivalent jobs created.  This deduction would, of course, only be available to private sector businesses.  Non-profits and government jobs would not qualify for the deduction.

Sadly, far too many proposals circulated this session have been way too targeted. Crafting a proposal that limits the incentive to an exclusive group in order to generate a press release is not enough.  We need real policies that give every business a boost.   

My preliminary calculations show that there are approximately 2.3 million private sector jobs in the state.  While the Department of Workforce Development does not keep statistics on how many of those are full or part time jobs, we know for sure that this deduction would help countless employers and small business owners all over Wisconsin who are struggling to make ends meet.

Additionally, it's my hope that this deduction would free up some resources and lessen the tax burden on employers to a point where they would feel able to take on new employees - or at the very least stop the loss of businesses in Wisconsin .

A few weeks ago I posted a report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance that showed Wisconsin lost 6,700, or 4.3%,  of its businesses between 2006-2009.  This was a larger loss than any surrounding state and the US , on the whole.

Todd Berry, president of WISTAX, noted that "While employment figures and jobless rates are closely monitored by the press and the public during a recession—as they should be, less attention has been paid to the employers who provide jobs." My legislation is a direct attempt to pay more attention to job creators and businesses in this state.

Each year we read stories and see reports that often show a dismal view of Wisconsin 's business tax climate and our competitiveness with other states. Last year the national nonpartisan Tax Foundation ranked Wisconsin 's business climate 39 of 50.  They found Wisconsin to be less competitive than almost 3/4 of other states because of the higher than average levy and the very complicated code.

Forbes also gave Wisconsin an unfavorable rating, ranking Wisconsin the 44th best place to do business in the country last year. They cited high business costs and an unforgiving regulatory climate.

The bottom line is our tax structure really does hurt businesses and in turn, workers.  Even worse, insult was added to injury this year when a budget containing billions in tax increases was signed by the governor.  While I know my idea for a job creation tax deduction will not fix all our state's problems, I feel it's a step in the right direction to getting Wisconsin 's economy back on track.

Keep reading the update in coming weeks as I provide more ideas for how we might improve Wisconsin 's economy. 

State Representative Robin Vos State Capitol - Room 321 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison , Wisconsin 53708 Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663 Email: Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov On the Internet: Representative Vos' Web Site

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LEGISLATORS PRAISE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR DECISION TO PROTECT THE STATE FROM FEDERAL HEALTH CARE TAKEOVER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2010 FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

STATE REPRESENTATIVE ROBIN VOS 608-266-9171

STATE REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT SUDER 608-267-0280

STATE SENATOR DAN KAPANKE 608-782-3975

LEGISLATORS PRAISE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR DECISION TO PROTECT THE STATE FROM FEDERAL HEALTH CARE TAKEOVER

Madison State Reps. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia), Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), and state Senator Dan Kapanke (R- La Crosse) – co-authors of a resolution to authorize Attorney General Van Hollen to take legal action against the federal government - thanked the Attorney General today for his swift examination of the federal health care bill and decision to contest the constitutionality of a portion of the legislation, if authorized. 

“I’m encouraged by today’s announcement that the Attorney General thinks there is sufficient evidence to question the constitutionality of this federal health care takeover,” said Suder.  “I now look forward to a quick approval by the Legislature so we can move forward to protect the 10th Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens.”

Suder and Vos were joined by 32 fellow Republicans on Monday in a letter asking Van Hollen to take legal action.  After researching the bill to determine evidence of unconstitutionality, Van Hollen submitted a letter to Governor Doyle and leaders in the state Assembly and Senate this morning asking for the authorization.

“It’s obvious that opposition to this health care scheme has gone beyond a partisan issue,” Senator Dan Kapanke stated, “Which tells me we shouldn’t have any problem getting Democrats to join with us in supporting the resolution.”

Vos echoed Kapanke’s sentiments, referring to a new Quinnipiac poll released today.  The poll shows that by a 49% - 40% margin, more voters disapprove of the new federal health care legislation.

“The public is on our side,” claimed Vos. “Fifteen percent of Washington Democrats voted against the health care bill, so if Wisconsin Democrats are really on the side of the people, there’s no reason to think that we won’t get the same result in Madison.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NEW YORK TRAIN COMPANY SAYS HIGH SPEED BIDDING PROCESS RIGGED

Robin J. Vos

State Representative • 63rd Assembly District • Racine County

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 23, 2010

Rep. Robin Vos

(608) 266 9171

 

New York Train Company Says High Speed Bidding Process Rigged

 

Madison Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) released a letter today written by the president of New York train company Alstom to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The letter provides further evidence that Governor Doyle’s no-bid contract procuring $48 million high speed train sets was crafted to favor Spanish train company, Talgo.

“As more details are exposed,” said Vos. “It’s clear that Governor Doyle and DOT officials rigged the process to specifically benefit Talgo.”

The letter, written last August by Alstom president Roelof van Ark to DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi, sheds light on the Request for Information (RFI) process. DOT officials have used the fact that no one but Talgo responded to the RFI to deflect criticism that Wisconsin never sought bids from other companies.

Alstom says they were told that they weren’t obligated to respond to the RFI, that is was simply a way for DOT to gather information on what each company could provide and at what approximate costs.  They were also told that failure to respond would in no way exclude them from the forthcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) that would open up the bidding process. A subsequent RFP was not issued.

Bob Jambois, general counsel for the Department of Transportation, testifying before the Joint Finance Committee in August, flippantly dismissed complaints from companies, claiming they made “poor business decisions”:

“If they have such a great product, I’d like them to show us the proof of that…Now I suppose instead of having an RFI process, we could call it not merely an RFI process, but a ‘really most sincerely RFI process’ - if you want to participate really most sincerely, we get down on bended knee and we beg you to provide us information about your product…Surely those executives of those companies must have….known that we were seriously contemplating replacing rolling stock…and if they didn’t…that was a poor business decision on their part. And I don’t think that the state of Wisconsin should be now stepping back to facilitate the poor business decisions that were made by companies that chose not to participate in this process.”

“The Department of Transportation is blaming businesses instead of owning up to rigging the process,” said Vos “Companies were told they weren’t required to respond to the RFI so I don’t want to hear any more excuses or accusations from the DOT. I want the real reason there was no bidding process.”

Finally, Alstom took issue with DOT’s statement that they chose Talgo because they are the only company that makes tilting high speed trains. Alstom says they also manufacture trains with tilting technology, as do many other train manufacturers. Van Ark questioned this DOT talking point in his August letter to Busalacchi, writing:

“One would think that if this requirement was so significant in your decision making that the requirement would have been detailed in the Department’s Request for Information, as it would have been determined to be paramount to meet the operational criteria for the planned services in the region.  This not being the case, it is surprising that such a critical omission now becomes the key criteria to motivate a sole-source procurement”.

“The bottom line is Governor Doyle needs to prove to Wisconsin citizens that he spent their tax dollars wisely,” Vos stated. “Striking secret sweetheart deals with foreign companies is not the way to do that.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LEGISLATORS ASK ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT THE STATE FROM FEDERAL HEALTH CARE TAKEOVER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                            March 22, 2010 FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE ROBIN VOS                                                                                                        608-266-9171

STATE REPERSENTATIVE SCOTT SUDER                                                                                  608-267-0280

LEGISLATORS ASK ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT THE STATE FROM FEDERAL HEALTH CARE TAKEOVER  

34 sign letter urging action from Attorney General Van Hollen.

Madison Following passage of the massive federal takeover of health care last night, Representatives Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) and Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) were joined by 32 of their colleagues in asking Attorney General Van Hollen to take action against the legislation.  The letter asks Van Hollen to join attorneys general from across the country who’ve expressed concerns about the constitutionality of this legislation.

“The only thing bipartisan about this bill was the opposition,” said Vos.  “Congressional Democrats had to beg, borrow and steal their way to the 216 votes they needed to pass this bill and the people of Wisconsin are going to be the losers.  This is an unconstitutional takeover of health care and we need to do all we can to protect our state from the fallout.”

The legislation imposes a massive tax by fining all American citizens who choose not to be covered by health insurance.  The bill also contains a provision known as the Cornhusker Kickback which requires the federal government to fully fund Nebraska’s Medicaid program while requiring the remaining 49 states to continue funding a portion of their plans.

“We are asking the Attorney General to take appropriate and responsible action to protect Wisconsin from this government power grab,” said Suder. “The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly grants the states the sovereignty needed to opt-out of federal laws such as this. Why should our taxpayers have to pay for the Cornhusker Kickback or the Louisiana Purchase or any other unfunded mandate in this unconstitutional bill?”

While an amendment process has been discussed at the federal level, the bill passed by the House of Representatives will be enacted into law once the President signs it.  Immediate action is required if the state desires to take action.

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Robin Vos Eupdate: Wisconsin's Welfare Fraud Culture Continues ~ March 19, 2010

Wisconsin's Welfare Fraud Culture Continues

Those of you who followed my eupdates during the last two budget debates have read about my frustrations in trying to stop welfare fraud only to be blocked by Democrats who continue to support the culture of fraud in Wisconsin.  While I can't stand any type of taxpayer fraud, I've been most involved recently in working to curb fraud in the Wisconsin Shares child care program. 

When I read a new report out this week, written by Mike Nichols for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, on the culture of food stamp (known as FoodShare) fraud in Wisconsin, I was once again outraged.  I am so tired of hearing about these fraud cases and I am really upset that nothing is being done about them in Wisconsin.

The report claims that Wisconsin has more than doubled it's FoodShare rolls since 2003.  It says that some of this is due to the bad economy, but also to looser eligibility rules - which I fought against in the last budget. In Wisconsin, 700,000 people now benefit from FoodShare.  This costs the taxpayers $800 million a year.

The  main point of the report is that Wisconsin has a culture of turning a blind eye to fraud - something I have been saying since I tried to get the state to deal with the Wisconsin Shares program in 2007.  According to Nichols, other states by far surpass us in their food stamp fraud investigations. In 2007, Minnesota and Michigan performed at least 85% more investigations. 

Prosecutions are dismal, as well.  In 2007, Wisconsin prosecuted 20 people.  Minnesota prosecuted over 1,000; Michigan 2,400.  Those interviewed in the article attribute this to a couple different things: depleting resources and something called "social worker mentality".

As Wisconsin's budgets have gotten tighter and tighter over the years, so have the county budgets.  Often, counties acknowledge the first things to go are their fraud investigation units. Programs like FoodShare and WisconsinShares are funded by state and federal money, and they have no incentive to be good stewards of those dollars when there are so many other programs to fund. At the same time, many counties, including Racine County, desperately want the resources to stop the fraud that they know is taking place, and if not for lacking state resources would be able to.

That's why I authored amendments that allocated extra money to the counties to put into their fraud investigation units.  They were voted down by Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and then again in the full Assembly. They cited the fact that we just didn't have a couple million extra to root out fraud. 

Any sensible person can see this is penny-wise and pound-foolish.  The Wisconsin Shares program has been bilked of close to $20 million.  And while it's impossible for him to really know for sure, Nichols suggests that FoodShare fraud also could be (and most likely is) costing us a lot of tax dollars.  He recounts stories of people in jail giving their FoodShare cards to people on the outside to use, others selling them to store owners for cash, while others are some how trading them for drugs. 

So when Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and in the full Assembly said we didn't have the resources to provide extra money for fraud prevention, I decided to come up with another solution.  I worked with County Executive Bill McReynolds and Human Services Director Debbie Jossart to come up with a formula that would allow counties to keep a certain amount of their fraud recovery dollars.  It would give workers and county administrators an incentive to really crack down on fraud.  In this way, the state could recover some money and so could the county - working together to stop the fraud culture. Sounds reasonable right? Wrong.  That was not accepted by Democrats, either. 

As I've mentioned before in my eupdates, I introduced a myriad of other amendments (that were rejected) to help tighten up the regulations in the child care program and help make it easier for counties to stop the fraudulent use of the child care program.  The majority of these ideas again came from Racine County.  McReynolds and Jossart know the programs inside and out and know where some of the state's lax regulations get in the way of stopping fraud at the county level.  Their expertise is extremely valuable, and it's why I've reached out to them again to come up with ideas on how to combat FoodShare fraud. 

The "social worker mentality" mentioned above suggests that by cracking down on fraud we are somehow picking on poor people.  But I think in this case, that argument is untenable given that a lot of fraud whistleblowers are public assistance recipients, themselves, angry that someone is scamming the system while they are following the rules.   

In any case, many Democrats in the Legislature, as well as the agencies that administer the program, and sometimes the county workers who implement it, suffer from social worker mentality.  They think rooting out fraud is somehow picking on poor people, and this is just dead wrong.  By allowing this to happen, by turning a blind eye on the wrongdoing, we are hurting the people that need these services the most. 

I will continue to fight against welfare fraud.  But if you haven't already, I encourage you to click on the link above and read the full investigative report.  It's worth it.  Then I encourage you to send it to all your friends.  Because I've learned in my fight against fraud that often it takes a loud cry of outrage from the public along with a lot of media coverage to actually end the cycle of complacency that has embedded itself in the Madison bureaucracy.

State Representative Robin Vos State Capitol - Room 321 East - Post Office Box 8953 - Madison, Wisconsin 53708 Phone: (608) 266-9171 - Toll Free: (888) 534-0063 - Fax (608) 282-3663 Email: Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov On the Internet: Representative Vos' Web Site

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: VOS RENEWS CALL FOR HEARING ON NO-BID TRAIN DEAL

 Robin J. Vos

State Representative - 63rd Assembly District - Racine County

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

For Further Information Contact:                                           March 11, 2010

Rep. Robin Vos

(608) 266 9171

 

Vos Renews Call for Hearing on No-Bid Train Deal

 

MadisonRep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) renewed the call for a Joint Finance hearing on the no-bid train deal with Spanish company Talgo today after Milwaukee train company Super Steel announced that they were shut out of the bidding process for Wisconsin’s high speed rail project:

 

The announcement made by Super Steel today only further highlights the need for the Joint Finance Committee to hold a hearing on Governor Doyle’s sweetheart no-bid deal with Talgo.

 

“Super Steel’s confirmation that they were shut out of the bidding process by Governor Doyle once again illustrates Doyle truly doesn’t have the needs of Wisconsin’s ailing economy in mind.

 

“In our original letter to co-chairs Miller and Pocan, my Republican colleagues and I recognized the fact that new jobs are a good thing.  However, if the new jobs are created by destroying existing jobs, as today’s announcement suggests, that is too high a price to pay. 

 

“Sadly, this is yet another example of Governor Doyle playing politics while Wisconsin families and workers suffer the consequences. I truly hope co-chairs Miller and Pocan will schedule a hearing before Wisconsin loses any more jobs as a result of Governor Doyle’s indifference to the bidding process.”  

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